(Benaroya Hall unless otherwise noted: 200 University St, 215-4700, www.seattlesymphony.org/benaroya)
Schwarz Conducts Mahler's First Symphony (April 5–7)
Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony (April 12–14): The best existential wallowing in the world can be done during a performance of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. In descriptive program notes commissioned by his patroness, the composer explained the first movement as a declaration that "all life is an unbroken alternation of hard reality with swiftly passing dreams and visions of happiness" where "no haven exists." Seattle Symphony will be conducted by visiting Toronto Symphony music director Peter Oundjian. (Also on the program: Augustin Hadelich featured on Dvorák's Violin Concerto.)
Beyond the Score: Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony (April 15): With narrator.
Myung-Whun Chung and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (April 16)
Trpceski, Mälkki, Dutilleux (April 19–21): The ostensible highlight of these concerts is celebrated Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski playing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, but there are added reasons to go. Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice (fun) is on the program, plus the American premiere of two folk tunes by Damir Imeri, the presence on the podium of Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki (a female conductor is still rarely seen despite the success of Marin Alsop and a few others), and French composer Henri Dutilleux's Symphony No. 1. Dutilleux is still living though seldom heard—he'd never been featured in Seattle until this season, when new music director Ludovic Morlot made it his project to honor the living master.
Pink Martini with the Seattle Symphony (April 20)
Brahms Piano Quartet, Op. 60 (April 22): With Simon Trpceski.
Schwarz Conducts Prokofiev and Shostakovich (April 26, 28)
Sophie Lee (April 27): The 7-year-old violinist presents a community concert. (Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave S, 684-4757)
Young Composers: A Concert of World Premieres (May 1)
Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 2 (May 3, 5): Features Misha Keylin.
Hungarian Dances (May 4): Features József Lendvay Jr.
Organ Concert: Joseph Adam (May 7)
Bluebeard's Castle (May 15, 17): With set design by Dale Chihuly.
Mozart's Requiem (May 18–19): If you are one of those people who has never heard a live performance of Mozart's Requiem, you are aware that you could die any time, right?
Marvin Hamlisch's American Songbook (Pops) (May 31–June 3)
Hugh Laurie with the Copper Bottom Band (June 4)
Jesús López-Cobos conducts Capriccio espagnol (June 7, 9–10)
Ravel and Dutilleux with Cristina Valdés (June 8)
Symphony Sing-Along for the whole family (June 9)
Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 (June 14–17): With Stephen Hough.
The Damnation of Faust (June 21, 23): The gentleman devil, the gnomes, the soldiers, the sylphs, the demons, the spirits, the young lady, the old scholar—Berlioz's version of The Damnation of Faust is a spectacle featuring a bulging orchestra, a children's choir, an adult chorale, and spotlighted soloists. New Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot is conducting, and word is that he's excited. Benaroya will be bumping.
Natalie Merchant with the Seattle Symphony (June 22)
The Matrix Live: Film in Concert (June 28–29)
Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies (June 30)
(McCaw Hall unless otherwise noted: 321 Mercer St, 733-9725, www.seattleopera.org)
Don Pasquale (April 1–7) with Seattle Opera Young Artists. (Meany Hall, 15th Ave NE and NE 40th St, 685-2742, www.meany.org)
Madame Butterfly (May 5–20): Seattle Opera is allowed its warhorse: It hasn't done Puccini's Madame Butterfly in 10 years, and this production comes with distinguishing features. First, it's the Seattle Opera debut of the woman who basically owns the title role worldwide today, Patricia Racette, a New Hampshire native who studied music education and jazz at the prestigious North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in Denton. Second, this is the first time Seattle Opera will offer a free simulcast. Eight thousand people will be able to watch and hear opening night, free of charge, at KeyArena (305 Harrison St, www.keyarena.com). Awesome.
(Unless otherwise noted, events take place on the University of Washington campus at 15th Ave NE and NE 40th St, 685-2742, www.meany.org)
Emerson String Quartet (April 17)
Craig Sheppard: Mostly Brahms (April 20)
Afghan Music with Homayoun Sakhi and Salar Nader (April 24; they perform again at another venue, SAAM, on April 29)
Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole (April 28)
Seattle Wind Symphony (May 6)
Angela Hewitt: Rameau, Bach, Couperin (May 15)
JACK Quartet (May 18): Music by UW Composers. (Jones Playhouse, 4045 University Way NE, 543-4880)
Seattle Youth Symphony (June 3)
SEATTLE ASIAN ART MUSEUM
(1400 E Prospect St, 654-3100, www.seattleartmuseum.org)
Along the Silk Road with Early Music Guild (April 7): First comes a narrated photographic lecture on the historic sites of the Silk Road, from China through the Middle East, followed by the concert. Visiting Japanese musician Tomoko Sugawara plays the ancient Kugo harp, invented in Iraq in 1900 BC, with percussion accompaniment.
Afghan Music with Homayoun Sakhi and Salar Nader (April 29): Homayoun Sakhi is part of a musical lineage in Kabul that goes back to the origins of Afghan classical music in the 1860s. He was born into a musical family living in the musical quarter of the city in 1976, but soon he became a refugee in Pakistan, and then, in 2001, he came to Fremont, California, where he lives. He's considered the finest rabab player of his generation (rabab is a short-necked lute), and tonight he'll perform both traditional music and new works with percussionist Salar Nader on tabla, whose family left Kabul during the Russian-Afghan war, making this an entire evening of diasporic sound.
(1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255, www.townhallseattle.org)
Thalia Symphony Orchestra: Frances Walton Opera Gala (April 1)
Seattle Rock Orchestra: Poetry Apocalypse 2012 (April 6): After the apocalypse, future generations may find nothing of Seattle except for the original score and libretto for this evening's performance, written by a gang of spoken/written poets and rock classicists. Poets include Roberto Ascalon, Karen Finneyfrock, Tara Hardy, and Soulchilde/Okanomode (also performing as a tenor), and Buddy Wakefield, with Seattle Rock Orchestra and soprano Annie Jantzer.
Lake Union Civic Orchestra: An American in Paris (April 13)
Seattle Flute Society: Flute Festival (April 15)
Seattle Chinese Orchestra (April 20): It's the only traditional Chinese orchestra in the Pacific Northwest—bow-stringed instruments (seated to the left of the conductor), plucked instruments (seated to the right of and in front of the conductor), woodwinds, and percussion (in back). Seattle Chinese Orchestra has 50 members, some of Chinese descent and others non-Chinese scholars of the music, and they play everything from traditional to folk to contemporary.
Boston Camerata (April 21): Alexander the Great is supposed to have said, "I would rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent than in the extent of my powers and dominion." Easy for you to say, dominionizer. Still, the guy inspired all manner of song and poetry, and early-music group Boston Camerata, with Turkish music ensemble Dünya, promise to deliver Greatness.
Alarm Will Sound (April 26): The New York Times calls this 20-member new-music band "the future of classical music" and "the very model of a modern music chamber band." The program is juicy, with music by Aphex Twin, John Adams, Stefan Freund, Edgard Varèse, and an arrangement of the Beatles' "Revolution 9." Numbanine, numbanine, numbanine, numbanine.
Seattle Baroque Orchestra and Tudor Choir (April 28): Every time you hear the Tudor Choir take a giant collective breath during their performance of Vivaldi's Gloria in D, think of the composer, who had asthma. He had to stop playing woodwinds but ended up just fine as a violinist, composer, and priest (known for his red hair, he was nicknamed "The Red Priest"). Seattle Baroque Orchestra and the Tudor Choir give great Vivaldi—the baroque master is their wheelhouse.
Simple Measures: Local Vocals featuring Seattle Girls' Choir (April 29)
Saturday Family Concerts: Message from Guinea (May 12)
Thalia Symphony: Beethoven and Glazunov (May 12)
Lake Union Civic Orchestra: All Tchaikovsky (June 15)
Joshua Roman & an All-Cello Ensemble (June 19): You love him. You really love him. Who wouldn't? Joshua Roman is a curly-headed Dionysus of a cellist. He was once the youngest principal player in Seattle Symphony. Though he broke off to pursue his own career, he oversees classical music at Town Hall and still pops up now and again, including in this program with an all-cello ensemble in a program featuring a commission by musician/DJ/composer Mason Bates, plus works by Piazzolla and Strauss.
Onyx Chamber Players: Music from America & the British Isles (June 24)
CORNISH COLLEGE OF THE ARTS
(710 E Roy St, 726-5151, www.cornish.edu)
Cristina Valdés (April 14): Admit it: If you love classical music already, at least a small part of you craves the thrill of obscurity. Odds are you've probably never heard of Latin American composers Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Orlando Garcia, Jorge Grossmann, Mario Lavista, and German Caceres—despite the fact that they're leaders in their obscure field. Cornish adjunct faculty pianist Cristina Valdes plays them.
Gamelan Pacifica & Midiyanto (May 12): If you've never heard a Javanese gamelan—the Indonesian percussive orchestra—make a point of it. Featuring traditional and new music, and performer Ki Midiyanto.
(Venues vary, 935-7779, www.theesoterics.org)
Ekstase: Approaching ecstasy with Whim W'Him (May 18–20) is a concert-length choral ballet. (Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St, 269-1900)
Antama (June 29–30, July 1): The Esoterics are a thrilling a cappella group that does just what their name promises: they perform music you haven't heard elsewhere, and aren't likely to. Led by Eric Banks, this late spring concert is a series of works on the theme of community by lesbian and gay composers, including David Conte, Frank Ferko, Robert Kyr, Steven Sametz, Donald Skirvin, Joan Szymko, and Karen Thomas. (All Pilgrims Christian Church, 500 Broadway E)
(Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 215-4700, www.seattlesymphony.org/benaroya)
Christophe Chagnard and the Northwest Sinfonietta (April 27) fly beneath the radar, though they're treasures of the local classical scene. The orchestra is midsize, fresh and light, not a booming Beethovian band—its specialty is nuance. This program plays to that strength, with Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, Saint-Saëns's Cello Concerto No. 1 (soloist: David Requiro), and Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony (No. 4). After this Benaroya Hall performance, repeat concerts are April 28 at the Rialto Theater in Tacoma and April 29 at Pioneer Park Pavilion in Puyallup.
Schwarz conducts Beethoven (June 1): After this Benaroya Hall performance, there are repeat concerts June 2 at the Rialto Theater in Tacoma and June 3 at Pioneer Park Pavilion in Puyallup.